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Fourth Sunday of Advent

The announcement is made quietly. The plan of almighty God is allowed to unfold in obscurity. It is left hanging on the word of a young girl. The life plans of the young virgin are overturned. She is to be the new Ark of the Covenant, God’s dwelling place on earth. God’s word is to take flesh in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary is disturbed and does not fully understand what all this holds for her and for Joseph. Nevertheless she consents saying…I am the handmaid…Let what you have said… She abandons her own will in favour of the will of God. She is then given divine reassurance; ‘Do not be afraid’.

Mary has been chosen and prepared for this worthy role since the beginning of time. We now pray, ‘That she may make us worthy of the promises of Christ’. She had conceived God’s word in her heart before she conceived in her womb. (St. Jerome). ‘Blessed is she who believed that the promises of God would be fulfilled’ She pondered and treasured these things in her heart. Her vocation was to bring her to the foot of the cross. Her heart was to be pierced by sorrow yet she could say, ‘Be it done.’

There is always the temptation to say – ‘Thy will be done’ and yet in reality wish and pray for, ‘Thy will be changed.’ Knowing and doing God’s will is a difficult task of discernment and discipline. There is always the inhibiting fear of the unknown consequences of following Christ.

Yet – momentous events like the Annunciation can happen quietly to what seem like ordinary people living workaday lives. Great things can be accomplished in the quietest and most ordinary of lives. The lives of Jesus Mary and Joseph excluding public ministry of Christ were lived out in obscurity and ordinariness. When we co-operate with God’s will the world and the individual can be transformed.

We remember Mary for her humility and obedience before the Word and will of God. We remember her reflectiveness before the promises of the Scriptures, her sensitivity to the needs of others, her prophetic understanding of the role of the Messiah (Magnificat), her faithfulness to the end (unlike the men). We remember her ‘yes’ helping to undo the consequences of the times we said ‘no’ to the word and the will of the God.

We remember Mary’s consent to co-operate with the will of God and bring life to a world where death had the last say.

How to make God laugh –

Tell him your plans!